Inspections in Iraq have started. So far, the Iraqis appear to be complying with the demands of the U.N. Security Council resolution. Most of us breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, it has become clear that the ultra-hawks in the Bush administration -- Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle -- will not take yes for an answer. While the rest of the world thinks Iraq has backed down, these men are beginning a massive public relations blitz for war.
It is clear they are prepared to declare Iraq in default of the U.N. resolution even if the inspectors find no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Cheney has said the absence of evidence is not the same as the absence of weapons. Bush and his war hawks declare they know of such weapons in Iraq but have offered us not one iota of evidence. But with the possibility of a peaceful resolution to this crisis at hand, we cannot allow a few men to push the world to war. We must send a message to the White House to let the inspections work.
Harold L. Schwartz
Re "Iraq's Apparent Compliance Fails to Lift Regional Anxiety," Dec. 4: If it's true, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says, that "any country on the face of the Earth with an active intelligence program [including, specifically, the U.S. and the U.K.] knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction," perhaps there is a good reason for not sharing that intelligence with the American public. But if they have this unassailable knowledge, shouldn't they tell the U.N. inspectors where to look?
Re "Turks, Saudis Offer to Assist a War on Iraq," Dec. 4: The price for Turkey's acquiescence and assistance in the Bush administration's war on Iraq, buried near the end of the article, is "billions and billions of dollars," according to an unnamed senior Western diplomat. "And I think we're going to pay it," he adds. I now await an announcement that the oil industry is stepping forward to finance this exorbitant bribe, thereby sparing American taxpayers the cost. I fear it will be a long wait.
The appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as special envoy, first to Afghanistan and now to "free Iraqis," blatantly exposes the Bush administration's real intentions regarding the two countries ("Bush Names Envoy for 'Free Iraqis,' " Dec. 3).
In the mid-1990s, Khalilzad was an advisor for Unocal, conducting risk analyses on the proposed 890-mile, $2-billion natural gas pipeline project through Afghanistan. Khalilzad joined meetings with Taliban officials hosted at Unocal's headquarters in Sugar Land, Texas, in December 1997. Unocal had to halt its plans in 1998, after the United States bombed Afghanistan, but now the pipeline is on again as a "reconstruction" project, this time without Unocal.
Khalilzad's assignment reveals that perhaps the Bush administration's real goal in Afghanistan was not so much to root out Al Qaeda as to install a regime -- President Hamid Karzai also was a consultant for Unocal -- to help U.S. oil companies get at the large oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Basin. With the Afghan pipeline project moving ahead, Khalilzad's next job might be to help "free Iraqis" manage their oil production. That is, provided Saddam Hussein doesn't nuke those oil fields when Bush invades.
Ken Conklin Bash